Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

November 11, 2011

Music of the heart

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 11:53 pm

November 11, 2011

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Nargis Fakhri, Kumud Mishra, Piyush Mishra, Shammi Kapoor, Aditi Rao Hydari

Director: Imtiaz Ali

Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar is a far-from-perfect film, but it has honesty and depth, which is mostly missing in Hindi movies today.

Ranbir Kapoor is Janardan Jakhar, a middle-class kid from Delhi’s Pitampura, who sets himself up to get his heart broken when he’s told he can’t be a great musician until he’s suffered great pain. Janardhan goes from a desperate struggler strumming his guitar at campus hangout spots, to an angsty star, now rechristened Jordan, who’s prone to violent outbursts. Indeed it’s love and pain itself that inspires this journey. His heart beats for the unattainable Heer (Nargis Fakhri), the gorgeous Kashmiri girl he befriended while in college, who is now married in Prague.

Despite several hiccups, especially in the film’s post-intermission portions, Rockstar is an admirable effort if only for how unconventionally director Imtiaz Ali tells this tale of great passion. The romance at the core of this film is a complex one, and the film offers no easy answers. Watch how Heer comes alive each time she’s in Jordan’s presence, whereas when he’s without her his longing prompts his best music out of him.

From the very moment in, it’s evident Imtiaz understands his characters intimately and gives us lovely little moments to know them better. Like that scene in which Janardhan’s sitting in a canteen and complaining that he’s shattered over being shot down by the campus hottie. “If your heart was really broken, you wouldn’t be sitting here eating samosas and arguing over chutney,” his friend tells him, calling his bluff. In a later scene where a bhabhi protects him from his irate brothers, he screams at her for being too touchy-feely. There’s sharp wit on display here, including a scene in which Jordan sits poker faced for the most part, while a music baron chats with him about a contract in the midst of getting a massage.

The film’s chief lapses are its meandering script, and its less-than-impressive leading lady, both of which cost the film dearly. Nargis Fakhri is lovely to look at, but offers very little in terms of acting, reducing her character ultimately to a simpering-whimpering victim. Of the supporting cast, only Kumud Mishra makes a big impression as Jordan’s mentor and manager Khatana, who watches helplessly as his friend sinks into a quicksand of despair.

Rockstar is never as surefooted as Imtiaz’s breakout hit Jab We Met, but it’s a braver, riskier film than any he’s previously made. AR Rahman’s score serves as the spine of this enterprise, emerging expectedly as one the film’s biggest strengths. A word also for Anil Mehta’s dramatic camerawork; not merely for the lush Kashmiri landscapes but also for the edgily-shot concert scenes.

But Rockstar belongs to Ranbir Kapoor over everyone else. It’s a riveting performance – from Janardan’s rough edges to Jordan’s wildly unpredictable ways – and Ranbir roots it in the real. Watch how he seizes the stage in the Sadda haq number and virtually makes the track his own. For Ranbir alone, this film deserves a watch.

I’m going with three out of five for director Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar. In these times of instant gratification, here’s a film that makes you think. Not a perfect film, but one that stays with you long after the lights have come back on.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)


  1. I felt the movie’s main protagonist had a mystry about him , thats why the director had created unconventional circumstances for it …The circunstances which we don’t see in other hindi movie . It was a dark movie like no pain no gain , but i feel indians r an aspiring society even though with the coruption which resulted in widespread cynism , May be the movie ‘s success had touched that bleeding nerve , The movie had tapped that aspect just like singham earlier, some where ppl r hopeful they don’t want young to be burdened with the lonliness of a successful carrier thats ok …Since ppl wil see this ‘Rockstar’ , admire it secretly but wil never admit it…But, there r successful ppl who wil like it & admire it openly since, they all hav some wisdom in their heart …That life is a gr8 leveller , Can one ever win in life? or R the losers really the losers ? , nature gives us all equal not as far as wealth of material but the wealth of our mind , so i suggest that the successful don’t hit the delusions of the aspiring & the aspirers don’t need to be disturbed since more more u hit rockstar , the more u become like it , so better don’t see it , but ” rockstar” is a work of art , u wil understand whn u will become successful like me 🙂

    Comment by raja — November 16, 2011 @ 2:16 am

  2. I thnk the charactor was dark & unhappy b’cuse he was trying very hard to follow the footsteps of jim morrison , so he was ashamed & angry …he shld have been original but then there would have refrence point …Whn we truly love someone & we loose them & then meet them after years then we meet as if we met them jst yesterday but may be we r meeting them after years evenif they r mothers to a couple of childrens …in the mind u freeze ur lover & like a break whn u meet them it is the same like bfore , that is how things shld be , that is very well shown ….PPL were laughing in the end b’cuse they were feeling to cry but in society this kind of affair is not allowed & so they were trying not to recognise that part ( 1st girl friend ) whithin them so they were laughing since there is no faida in that thinking , it’s trivial 🙂 , but my friend love which can’t posses becomes trivial in the eyes of socity ….but trust me ppl admire it secretly 🙂

    Comment by raja — November 16, 2011 @ 2:29 am

  3. Non-sense three star for rockstar..What is happening to ur ratings…Were u Bribe before giving this rating….!! Rockstar ??? The film should be named Soil-Star..!!!

    Comment by hook — November 16, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

  4. I believe the strongest part of the movie is how it stays with you long after the movie has ended.
    Watching the movie will undoubtedly bring you back memories of jab v met and the inevitable comparison with kareena kapoor with the leading lady… and it seems like… why again !!! and that too with nargis fakhri… we could have taken another actor right?
    Movie goes on…with outstanding music conveying the deep unfathomable love of ranbir kapoor……
    and somewhere you do not realize when and how did the hell ranbir kapoor got so madly in love with nargis!!!! how can it be possible… it seems even stupid…
    Movie ends and with it, you are left gasping… whoaaaa.. what happened????
    Wat a movie it was!!!
    Wait for a day… and you will realize how strong the movie was… it comes back to haunt you with its pain, with the last song “Tum ko” and keeps on haunting you..
    Thats the magic of the movie…
    Yes, the movie lacks in some areas… but the message Imtiaz ali wanted to convey gets deep engraved in you…
    Its surely a must watch…

    Comment by Ridhima — November 17, 2011 @ 12:57 am

  5. totally boring movie…..1st half is decent…ranbir’s acting is excellent…even directors like imtiaz can dissapoint you!!!!!

    Comment by braj nandan — November 17, 2011 @ 10:59 am

  6. Very well reviewed. i think its a challenging movie to critic!

    Comment by veer arjun — November 17, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

  7. ek number film it is…………….go 4 it….if ur taste is for watching such type of movies…:):):)

    Comment by imran patel — November 17, 2011 @ 6:37 pm

  8. Vincent Dowling the Director of The Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival has said, “All the great stories in this world are all about loneliness.” From Casablanca to Cast Away, from Taxi Driver to There Will Be Blood….they all have one thing in common and that’s the theme of loneliness. Rockstar certainly embraces that theme to its entirety. And that’s what make the film’s story so effective. But story, not screenplay. It’s great subject by the Director Ali portrait beautifully but post interval the movie start to turn from a great musical to a more convention Bollywood melodrama when the Jordan’s presence makes his love of life get up from her deathbed. Thank goodness they didn’t get carried away.

    Although the screenplay is flawed, editor Aarti Bajaj has done a great job. You need a skilled editor to make a non linear movie. Anil Mehta(The Director Of Photography) captures the theme of music with it’s all panning shots beautifully. The beauty of both (Anil and Anjali) technician’s work is evident in the opening sequence, and Sada Haq concert glorifies the lyrics of both the songs.

    And I am really grateful that Rehman is an Indian.

    As per Ranbir Kapoor…i’ll give him 3 out of 5. Don’t get me wrong but I compare our movies and actors to Hollywood’s best. Because that’s the bar which we have to target. But in comparison to the performances we are witnessing from past few year in movies like Dabangg and Bodyguard and Singham and Ra-One….Ranbir is 5 out of 5! Less we say about Ms Fakhri the better. She is model not an actress. She better understand that early cause it’s us audience who suffer by their wrong career choices.

    This film is a Musical….and a bloody good one as well. The two most beautiful thing about this is its complex, frustrated and passionate musician protagonist and it is not a typical Bollywood masala film….it has a theme, a genre and it stays faithful to that one. A true film lover will definitely like this one.

    Comment by Vinit Masram — November 19, 2011 @ 12:01 am

  9. This is how much I hated the movie:

    Rockstar is a black hole in the gleaming galaxy of bright entertaining movies 2011 has witnessed so far, yes, it sucks, and badly. It fails miserably in areas that impact a common audience the most.

    The story unfolds incoherently. I do enjoy movies that are edited in a non-linear fashion but Rockstar is edited as if the editing team, led by Aarti Bajaj, strewed all reels of the movie on the floor and tried to create a mash-up that resulted in an alternate, short lived, crests and troughs throughout the movie culminating in unreasonable and grim story line.

    The story insists that to overcome any problem in life, the male protagonist should kiss and/or hug the lead female actor to sets things in place. The story demands emphatically that in order to become a big name in a creative field you need to have a broken heart full of jealous, anger and pain.

    Heer, played by Nargis Fakhri, who is as thin as a ‘Bakri’ (Goat) with lips that resemble the periphery of popped-out eyes of a toad, doesn’t have a single acting bone in her and is good only for calendars and photo-shoots. She tries hard to deliver simple Hindi dialogues with utmost difficulty. Director Sa’ab, not every calendar model carries an unconventional look that could certify them for a Bollywood stint. Mind it!

    Aditi Rao, as a news journalist, looks good and acts modestly.

    Music is just average, more than A R Rahman, it is the talent of the director to extract the most pleasing music from his music composer, but the music as I have mentioned is just mediocre.

    Also, Rahman should understand that not all ‘Sufi’ style songs suit his voice and that, to sing a song in his own voice in every movie he composes music for, is not mandatory. Sir, stick to music, quality music, do not poke in all the directions.

    Irshad Kamil has written lyrics that fall short of any rhythm. He must be terrifically inspired from the lyrics of Rock On written by Javed Akhtar to which Farhan did absolute justice (I know you like humming those songs even today). But the lyrics in Rockstar are like water droplets of different sizes hanging from a rope falling at their will at dissimilar times producing variable pitched and boring notes. You will find it treacherous to remember any song besides ‘Sadda Haq’ and ‘Tum Ho’ any time after leaving the cinema.

    Mohit Chauhan’s voice is good for soft, mellow, romantic numbers and clearly not for a rockstar-ish performance. Except for the soothing number ‘Tum Ho’, his voice and Ranbir’s character in the movie go in directions separated by 180 degrees.

    Aki Narula and Manish Malhotra have done commendable job as costume designers for Ranbir and Nargis, respectively.

    Ranbir’s acting as a rockstar and an irritated, jealous human being, reminds me of people from Delhi and NCR who always have high blood pressure and can pound you just for asking where on earth were they going?

    Cinematography, in parts, is good, helicopter shots and sequences laced with sepia and green gradient add effect to the mood of the film.

    All in all, I would say, Imitiaz Ali, writer and director of Rockstar, who gave us unforgettable movies like ‘Jab We Met’ and ‘Socha Na Tha’, has written and conceptualized this movie while sitting in a shit-hole…err… loo. I would recommend him a Sudoku toilet roll from http://www.hitplay.in, which has Sudoku on every ply of the roll to keep him busy in the toilet rather than churning out stories that haunt you when you realize what good you could have done to yourself in 2 hours and 40 minutes than to watch Rockstar.

    Comment by Udit — November 19, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

  10. The second part was the movie spoiler where as Nargis dies in the end….. fail I hate emotional ending filled with pain and sorrow will give a 2

    Comment by jason — November 20, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

  11. Hi Rajeev.I think 3 stars for this stupid movie is not at all apt.Hardly it is eligible only for 1 star.I dont understand on what basis you have given 3 stars for this.Apart from Music of A.R.R. there is nothing in this movie.

    Comment by Sridhar Garlapati — November 20, 2011 @ 6:58 pm

  12. Dear Rajeev,

    As always, you have reviewed this one and countless others, with a surgeons precision.

    I’d like to add a personal observation though. I think Imtiyaz Ali’s underlining theme in this movie has been the Sufi concepts of inconclusiveness and the blurring of morality. Agreed that most of the audience that go to watch a movie in India, or for that matter anywhere in the world, are looking for pure unadulterated entertainment.

    A few watch a movie and try to figure out what the movie is trying to say. Still fewer have a reference point in their lives which enables them to view the movie from a completely different perspective and makes that two and half hours a life changing experience. It becomes even stronger with individuals who have had a bit of both.

    For those of us went into the theater expecting a return on the Rs. 300 ++ ticket in terms of entertainment, this movie has hardly breaks even. For the other group, it is emotional trip that winds our keys so much that 2 weeks on, we are still struggling with the why’s and how’s.

    Such movies cause intense polarization. Not as much as cult hits, but they do.

    First time I am writing on your site, I am not sure if you read the comments of people who follow your site. But icase you do, i’d love to hear your thoughts.


    Comment by Binish — November 22, 2011 @ 5:57 pm

  13. dear rajeev
    movie doesnt desrv as much of star as u given
    plz don endorse such sily movie othryz such movie vl torch us again in future

    Comment by deepak kumar — November 24, 2011 @ 6:15 pm

  14. it’s nice movie… Music is awesome. It’s all about “STAR life is full of stress… media is always ready to create any normal news to Breaking News…

    Comment by swapneel954 — November 26, 2011 @ 12:47 am

  15. i think rock star really laggs a seat gripping story line.Imtiaz ali,s try 2 portrait why n how to b a rock star is not bad but,he fails to describe the agony of a rock star.i will go with u about nargish presence n acting in the movie , which is d main pain of Jordan.again leading lady fails in it.where as the concerts, a live performance by a rock band will be far far different.as if only ranbir was alone on the stage.other fellows lagged a bit in stage.the only 2 thing gave life 2 the movie is Ranbir ‘s die hard acting( which even not expressed well on stage shows ) through out the movie, and one n only Rahman’s music.last but not d least, we cant forget Mohit Chouhans heart out songs.The Songs r 2 good but reasoning n tyming of evry song in the movie is not well defined.I suggest everybody here to go thru d life of Rupam Islam(a well known Bengali Rock Band “Fossil’s lead vocalist), who once changed his religion even for his true love. and he is still rocking our hearts with his songs.

    Comment by rahul dutta — November 26, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

  16. Hi Rajeev I have a great respect for you as critik but what happened to you in these days? you are reviewing the films as u are amature.Being a movie freak i don’t understood the film ROCK STAR it’s one of the worst film i ever seen in my life.It realy don’t deserve 3 star rating.Please be honest in coming days.

    Comment by Dinu — November 26, 2011 @ 10:21 pm

  17. Hi Rajeev I have a great respect for you as critik but what happened to you in these days? you are reviewing the films as u are amature.Being a movie freak i don’t understood the film ROCK STAR it’s one of the worst film i ever seen in my life.It realy don’t deserve 3 star rating.Please be honest in coming days.

    Comment by Dinu — November 26, 2011 @ 10:21 pm

  18. Rockstar is engaging, impressive at times but definitely not a great movie on a whole. It lags a good performance from the heroine which is the weakest point that is to be considered. when the script doesn’t involves many characters then the very little characters should have the potential to carry the burden of the script completely. it was not up to the mark here in this case. no offense against RK, who did more than a decent job. coming to the screenplay, Imtiaz leaves his own mark of screenplay which was amazing and lively as usual. the movie slows down a bit in the second half but it moves according to the script demand. we never find a instance where it moves out of the line. the director was sincere in his writing and so in the direction part, music needs no mention which was to the heights.On a whole its engaging and a must watch for everyone in particular movie lovers!

    Comment by sri harsha — December 8, 2011 @ 10:27 am

  19. Perfect Review. it deserves 3 🙂

    Comment by Praveen — December 24, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

  20. Rajeev – You owe me 150 bucks!! Can’t believe you gave it a 3!!! WHAT IS HAPPENING TO YOU?? If i wanted to read such a review – could’ve stuck to Nikhat Kazmi’s 🙁

    I wonder if Imtiaz Ali ripped off Jab We Met from somewhere. Love Aaj Kal was trash. Rockstar is shit.

    No offence – this was the truth: http://in.movies.yahoo.com/blogs/movie-reviews/rockstar-review-103756608.html

    Comment by Ravi — December 25, 2011 @ 7:56 pm

  21. I just can say that it is not a rockstar’s (struggling) story or it is a love story (perfectly)all i can say that its “rockstar’s lovestory” which have pain in it!! Just have good music in it!

    Comment by Spiky — December 26, 2011 @ 8:31 am

  22. I’m not an indian i belongs to qatar…rockstar was the second hindi movie i’ve ever seen..besides 3 idiots..
    I saw rockstar with subtitles…
    It was better than seeing step up like english films…
    It was really a psycho film..took some time to digest..
    musics were rockingly superb even if can’t sing it i’ve experienced a concert ar rahman on dubai so i know his class. …and the actor has portrayed a good role….
    Its a class movie…why these people are speaking cynical..

    Comment by adnan mohemmed matar — January 4, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

  23. Some people are calling this movie as nonsense. They are insensitive and believe in typical rules of indian society. This movie really touches. Very different……..hats off to imtiaz. Indian audience needs masala only so most of them wont understand the soul of this movie.

    Comment by Manoj — January 8, 2012 @ 10:24 pm

  24. total nonsense movie. damn boring.
    3 star is too much for this movie.

    Comment by Biman Saha — February 2, 2012 @ 1:52 am

  25. the way ranbhir acted is really gud !! far more better than his previous movies n he surpassed all other actors.

    Comment by siddharth — February 28, 2012 @ 11:01 pm

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